The Future of Content Creation

There’s a huge war between Hollywood/the music industry and Silicon Valley going on. The war mostly is over the problems of distribution and cost, although the MPAA/RIAA lawyers are branding this an issue over intellectual property (it’s really assets because you can’t call Justin Bieber or Britney Spears anything related to intelligence). Generally, the MPAA/RIAA’s sob story over piracy is that if people don’t pay (exorbitant prices) for their content, then they won’t be able to create more content.

However, despite their coked up delusional whine with cheese spin, the bigger issue I see is whether people will continue to demand recycled content. Let’s be honest about Hollywood and the music industry: what original things have they truly created that hasn’t been a remake or a delta in recent years? The really high quality content, imo, (and I do not refer to budget as equaling quality in this equation) is being created by independents, who lack the big marketing dollars, production value and distribution networks to compete on Hollywood and the music industry’s level.

But I think that with various services such as YouTube, Apple’s music store, ustream, etc. the opportunities for content distribution to the masses is slowly but surely going to swallow up the larger media companies’ lunch. If you think about it, everyone is slowly becoming content creators. For instance, Twitter and Facebook provide mechanisms for simple content generation that appeal to everyone. Yes, I mean, when you write a post, share a link, etc., your followers receive that content and consume it. As a result, you actually are taking away from big media (although Facebook can be considered big new media).

The problem is that people aren’t thinking along the lines of content as just being any means of creating information. But that’s what it is. I argue that there is a fundamental paradigm shift going on right now that will basically move distribution completely into the hands of the average person, where high production value is going to not in the consumption of media, but the tools for generating high quality media.

Take commercials for instance. People have become their own advertisers through social media. The few power house marketing companies can produce the big name advertisement, but that really is just consumed at the radio and television level. From a social media viewpoint, we’re able to spread things virally via the Facebooks, Twitters, etc.

So what I think will happen is the slow demise of Big Media in terms of the creation of content and the fracturing of that into more mechanisms of creation. As a result, the important elements for advertisement and media creation will be more in the tools for the average person to use in building up their own form of content as individuals will move from being passive participants to engaging in more active roles.

The thing with Big Media is that they must start accepting this. Even if they refuse to give up their stance on piracy or (over)pricing, their real downfall will be the distribution mechanisms and the enabling of the average person to build content and allow for everyone to become more active participants in that.

Current Progress in Patch 4.3

So far patch 4.3 for World of Warcraft has been the best part of the expansion thus far. Yes, things were greatly simplified but you always have to realize that not everyone is great. For instance, I did LFR today where some jackass griefer kept pulling mobs and wiping our group. Since we didn’t have a chance to rez properly, it was hard to boot him. Eventually, he left once people realized that he was causing issues. But once we got rid of him, the raid went pretty smooth.

At the moment, I’ve been gearing three guys, my hunter, shaman and death knight. I’ve managed to get enough gear on all three to do the LFR, but I’m mostly focusing on the first raid. Thus far, it’s pretty simple. After going through it once, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty. At the moment, I’m having my hunter and DK handling that side. My hunter has finally maxed himself out with regards to the current batch of Heroics. My DK is close too and just needs to replace his legs and shoulders (especially his shoulders!!!!!). I’m waiting on my shaman a little since he’s still technically undergeared.

However, my plan for my shaman is to continue grinding out gear from the current batch of Heroics until he replaces most of his current stuff. The worst items are his trinkets, but there’s little I can do outside of get JP for the trinket and hope that the Arrow of Time drops down the road. At the same time, I’m building up an elemental gear set on the side. I hope to play him as a range eventually. At least then, he’ll have more things to do when he maxes out from the current instances.

I have to admit that the new instances aren’t that bad. I am sick of Well of Eternity, but honestly it’s a pretty easy instance. I just kept hitting it over and over despite not needing anything for one of my guys. The positive is that they’re pretty short so you can gear up reasonably quickly (unless the RNG gods do not look favorably upon you). Eventually, you’ll hit a wall where the drops slow down. However, you can just keep farming JP to load up on badge gear.

Overall, it’s been much better than the previous patches. Not as grindy but at least we’re back to the positive parts of WOTLK.

Upgrading Gear for Patch 4.3 Continued

As I gear up my toons in patch 4.3 for World of Warcraft, I wanted to share my own experiences as I geared up my various toons with the current expansion for those who might share my play style. First off, if you’ve read my blog, I am a casual gamer. I don’t consider myself a hardcore raider or PVPer. But I do know enough of the game to figure out how to do okay for myself. At the same time, I’m not a completionist meaning that I don’t need to experience every single piece of content for the sake of it. My goals simply are to do as much content as possible without being too frustrated. As you may know from reading my blogs, I’ve had issues with the current expansion in that certain elements were probably made more difficult, at least in a group environment. So I avoided most of the instances and raids up until the current patch. I’ve seen other people on my server who seem to feel the same way so I figure that I’m probably average when it comes to playing this game in terms of mentality.

With that in mind, I wanted to discuss how you can avoid those hiccups through my experiences. First, because of the way this expansion was structured, I focused more of my efforts on leveling various toons up to 85. Part of the reason was to avoid dealing with the horribly high auction house prices on my server. So in that situation, I made several toons for the purpose of professions. Although it was a slow and painful process, the long term benefit was getting to this current stage where I am starting to reap the fruits of my labor.

The key for me was getting at least one toon to level 85. That toon would then proceed to feed the other toons. On this server, I focused on my protection paladin. While he isn’t as geared as my death knight nor hunter anymore, he provided a great foundation with mining and blacksmithing. From there, I leveled a DK, druid and imported my hunter (who was level 80 on a PVP server) then worked on my shaman and warlock. From a profession viewpoint, these toons were jewelry crafter/miner, herbalism/inscription, skinning/leatherworking, tailoring/enchanting and herbalism/alchemy. I still have four other toons, one of which is my warrior who is a miner/engineer, but I’ll finish her up a little later. Regardless, the idea here was to provide all the key gathering professions and later the crafting professions. Taking a DK early on was critical because it afforded me the easy ability to mine lower level areas and provide precious ore to my paladin. As a result, my paladin was able to get his blacksmithing skill up fast. Not to mention using the spare ore that he would gather to put on the auction house for a little gold.

The next goal was to max out the crafting professions. This aspect was a lot tougher and would force me to make some heavy purchases on the auction house, especially on rarer mats. Although initially I couldn’t craft any epic items nor do any high level enchants, just having the max crafting skill would prepare me for the current patch where Chaos Orbs would be made available as BoEs. In turn, I could focus on making gold to purchase the occasional BoE epic on the auction house by doing various dailies and improving my reputation with the different factions.

Up until patch 4.3, I focused on my protection paladin, doing Tol Barad weeklies to pick up honor and converting it into justice points. It allowed me to pick up a few ilvl 359 gear along with the Molten Front dailies, which gave me access to the venders that sold ilvl 365 gear. Not exactly a fun process, but I managed to get my paladin to ilvl 362. But I hit a wall with him and that caused me to switch my focus to my hunter.

Similarly, I was either grinding dailies, making PVP gear via leatherworking or making large purchases on the AH on my hunter. However, he was just on the ilvl 353 mark with his gear. So once patch 4.3 hit, I could immediately send him into the new Heroics. To avoid getting kicked for having crap gear, I partnered with a warrior friend who had fairly decent gear. That allowed one of us to make up in DPS. For my hunter though, I prepared him by purchasing the ilvl 365 gun, cape (from the starting Molten Front quest), the ring and later the trinket. Doing the Molten Front dailies opened up enough Guardians of Mount Hyjal reputation to allow for the purchase of the ilvl 359 mail boots. Earlier, I picked up both the chest and belt pieces on the AH and got enough reputation with the Dragonmaw clan to get the ilvl 346 helmet. At this point along with my crafted 358 gear, I felt that it was enough to start doing heroics.

You pretty much just need to do a run through 1-2 times each to get a general feel for each heroic. They aren’t particularly difficult and you can read about the encounter on wowhead or checkout clips from Tankspot on youtube. Either way, the mechanics for each fight are reasonably structured, the instances run fast and you’ll probably get 1-2 pieces of gear per run the first time through. Make sure you do all the quests along the way to pick up the quest gear as well and explain to your group that you need to complete the quests just in case they requeue.

Now, the reason why I decided to go on my hunter as opposed to my protection paladin at first (especially since I could reduce wait time) is that I wanted to get practice at each encounter. The easiest way is to queue as a DPS just to see each fight. Don’t lolcharge into any encounter and just watch for things on the ground. Hopefully, you can make it through the first three instances to pick up 3-6 pieces of gear so your DPS increases as you learn each instance. Don’t give up too soon if you wipe either. There’s a good chance you’ll wipe. If you get blamed for whatever reason (outside of doing incredibly stupid things or being a jerk), then just keep rolling or be honest about your situation. Since these encounters aren’t as difficult as the earlier heroics, you probably will have less of a chance of getting kicked to curb. And the gear makes persistence worth the effort.

Of course, you might be asking why did I decide to gear a frost death knight as opposed to my paladin? In my case, I was still learning the encounters and began working on him. This would give me double the opportunities to learn each encounter both as a ranged DPS and a melee DPS. I felt that tanking requires you to be more on your game, so learning each encounter as best as you can is better than just lolcharging in. Also, I don’t have good gear as a retribution paladin, so it makes gearing entering into these heroics much tougher as a DPS.

With my DK, I practically geared him within two days of reaching the minimum requirement. Part of what I did was again buying the occasional epic on AH, crafting the two handed ilvl 365 sword and ilvl 359 breast plate (I think). The rest was just picking up what I could from the Molten Front or Guardians of Hyjal and crafting PVP gear. The only tragedy in this was that after spending a great deal of gold on crafting the sword, I probably used it for only a few encounters before upgrading to the Chieftain’s two handed axe that drops off the tauren in the first heroic instance. Then again, if you look at things in the long term, this situation is what you call an investment.

Now, my next target is my shaman. I’m gearing him similarly to my hunter except that I had to buy the two Tankards O’ Terror items from the AH to get his weapons up (since there really isn’t any decent craftable weapons for an enhancement shaman). I did cheat a little by picking up the pvp relic and buying the strength DPS necklace from the Molten Front vender. Sure, the necklace was cheating, but my excuse in this situation was that he could use the expertise and mastery to compensate for the lacking agility.

Again, why gear up all these toons? Here’s another way to look at it. If I only geared up one, then I can only get 1000 VP per week, which is about 7 runs for Heroic mode. That’s a base line of 7 chances X 3 per boss encounter along with justice points. More importantly, that’s only 21 chances of getting items like chaos orbs. Gearing up multiple toons allow me to increase my chance of getting BoE epics, chaos orbs, VP and justice points. Down the line, I will eventually have enough gear where justice points and even VP won’t matter anymore. When that happens, I can either purchase JP (or VP) bracers for my other toons or put those on AH. Also, having multiple toons means I can join the raid finder more than once a week, which again means more practice, more VP, etc.

One major positive is that I can do all this solo, without a guild even. I can get good end game gear, experience end game raids and just have fun. It is nice to have a guild support you, but you cannot depend on other people to carry you all the way through. My methodology truly allows the casual player to experience as much of the game as you can without losing too much sleep.

How to Get Into the New Cataclysm (Patch 4.3) Heroics

Patch 4.3 has done some good things for casual players in making gearing  up for the final death wing battle a lot simpler compared with the previous patches. However, there is a major caveat: if you don’t meet a certain item level, you won’t be able to get into the new Heroics. So what happens if you didn’t raid, don’t have a great guild or have problems with the older Cataclysm heroics? This blog will detail a few simple (albeit potentially expensive) methods for hitting ilvl 353 or so to enter the new Heroics.

Let’s say you have an 85 ready to go but you only have quested up until now. Perhaps, you just hit 85 and want to gear up fast without having to enter old Heroics. If you’ve managed to save  your money, check the local auction house. One of the first items you might consider for your toon is a 378 bracer. Considering that the 378 bracers have effectively been degraded since you can purchase them with Justice Points, these may range in price between 700-1400+ gold depending on your server. As far as I can tell, the new Heroics do not drop 378 bracers, so you might try picking these up to start.

Next be on the look out for affordable epics. 359 gear aren’t as sexy anymore, but still provide enough of a reasonable upgrade. If you have any crafters, you might consider making the 359’s instead by purchasing chaos orbs and materials. For myself, I ended up doing a mixture of farming my own mats and buying stuff from my auction house.

What may be a little tougher to procure but definitely worth it if you have the mats or money are 365 weapons. You won’t see many 353 or 359 weapons anymore since people are now hitting the newer content. However, the 365 crafted gear are reasonable options. You’ll probably end up hating yourself after spending a huge chunk of change either directly purchasing an overpriced weapon or gathering/buying mats. I guarantee you that in the long run, it’s better this way.

If you lack a plethora of toons that can help compliment each other in terms of crafting gear and farming mats, another option is to grind honor. Tol Barad is probably one of your best choices for getting quick/easy honor. Of course, this all depends on your server as one faction may outweigh the other. If both sides are even though, you might find this method along with grinding battlegrounds to be a reasonable selection. Of course, once you get enough honor, you can convert them to justice points to pick up a few pieces of gear.

While you’re at doing PVP, I heavily suggest picking up the newer PVP gear. These basically are the same as the previous models except that the stats have been improved to reflect the new season for PVP. But the real key is that they are of ilvl 377. While I advise avoiding wearing all PVP gear to a dungeon, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to sneak a few pieces through. Just make sure you know what you’re doing so that the party doesn’t blame you in case of a wipe.

Also, hopefully you’ve done the introduction to the Molten Front quest line. If you managed to pull through the first day of dailies and the starting quest chain, you potentially can receive between 1-2 epic items of ilvl 365, including one cloak. Hopefully, you started far before the first day. But if you managed to get far enough in, stick with it so you can unlock as many venders as you can.

One of the most important aspects to doing the Molten Front dailies as much as possible is that your reputation with the Guardians of Mount Hyjal will continue to increase. If you’ve managed to complete the entire Mount Hyjal quest line, you will notice that your reputation ends at revered, which may get you a single piece of ilvl 346 gear. Pushing your reputation to exalted is important as you might be able to get an epic ilvl 359 piece of gear.

Similarly, I suggest doing as many other dailies as possible. Uldum is an exception though because the reputation gains are pretty tiny and will definitely take you forever to improve without doing any instances. Also, Deepholme might not necessarily be the best spot since being exalted with them only provides the second best shoulder enchants in the game. At this point, you’re better off focusing your dailies with the Molten Front, Tol Barad and Twilight Highlands.

Lastly, if you have tons of gold floating around, there definitely will be a few top epic items around the ilvl 397 range that you can pick up. But these are certainly not for the faint of heart because the price ranges will be quite ridiculous.

The good thing is that once you are able to hit the minimum ilvl requirement, you can pop yourself into an instance. Even if nothing drops for you in that instance, the instance will generally have two quests, one of which will probably provide you with an ilvl 378 upgrade. So even if you run through the first three without scoring on any gear drops, you will get something from the quests.

Using this methodology, I was able to push my hunter and death knight recently into the new heroics. Just for my death knight alone, it took me about two days of straight grinding to nearly upgrade most of his gear. While killing bosses, I was able to obtain supplemental justice points to pick up items that normally wouldn’t drop in these instances or would rarely drop. At the time of writing this, I am working on my third toon in terms of gearing him up, which is an enhancement shaman.

Now, is this the absolute best way to get geared? Probably not. You might be better off running normal mode level 85 instances for justice points, picking up any ilvl 333 gear and max that out then making the occasional ilvl 378 purchase. But that might take a fair amount of time too if you just grind justice points from normal mode. But if you hit ilvl 333, you can progress to Cataclysm Heroics and follow that up with the ZA/ZG instances. Again, this guide is mostly aimed at people who wanted to avoid the older Heroics for gearing up. But try both methods and see how you like them.

What Cataclysm Got Right

I can’t say that Cataclysm was a complete dismal experience. As we head towards Mists of Panderia and end the year with patch 4.3 and kill Deathwing, I wanted to reflect on some of the positive aspects of Cataclysm (there were a few).

Tauren Paladins

There were quite a few new race/class combinations but I have to say that I love my Tauren Paladin. I always thought that the Blood Elf Paladins were really gay, especially because the guy who introduced me to this game played an extremely emo one. I have a picture when he died and I could swear his paladin had friggin’ lipstick! My joke about Blood Elves is that there is no male versions.

Anyway, having a Tauren Protection Paladin is just awesome. They look like they fit the motif, especially considering their bonuses with stamina and the warstomp racial. Let Blood Elves be Holy Paladins. That fits them a lot better. Even Retribution because they QQ way too much.

Tol Barad

I love Tol Barad. It’s my current favorite BG. I try to queue up at night whenever it’s going down. It’s not really a tough BG but is what BGs imo are really about: just zerging the shit out of the opposite faction. I’m not into the hard core PVP stuff but I love just taking my prot pally and diving straight into an encampment and pissing the hell out of the opposing faction. I can probably do this with other BGs but I like just seeing the same old guys on the opposite faction and nuking them down a few times each week. Makes it more personal.

Goblins

I haven’t tried the Worgen but you gotta love the little new starting zone. It’s a shame that non-goblins can’t get there (not that I’m aware of) but it is probably one of the highlights of the game and definitely something that Blizzard put a fair amount of thought and energy into the design.

As a race, the goblins added a lot of color to the horde faction. They remind me of an edgier version of the smurfs. They’re like a mixture of Gilbert Gottfried, the Italian mafia, Jews, Jersey Shore and a lot of other bad metaphors that somehow work. I don’t know where the engineering aspect came from as a stereotype but that adds to their appeal.

The good thing about them is that the Horde finally got a race that can annoy the Alliance just as they have the gnomes 😉

Good Questing Gear

Although I disliked revamping all the vanilla zones, the positive that came out of that was the gear rewards. Previously, you had to instance grind to get better gear. But the quests now provide fairly decent rewards that are relevant. By the time you hit between level 58-60, you should have enough gear to prepare you for Outlands.

I remember when I was leveling my old toons on Ner’zhul, my friend would get me to quest with him in the Blood Elf area just because the rewards were better and that the quests had more focus. Now, with the revamped zones, you’re actually better off questing in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdom (even though there is a few shitty quests)

Smoother Traveling for Starting Zones

One thing I thought was well done as you level up was how some quests implemented a traveling mechanic that sped the quests up a little. For instance, for Taurens, there’s quests that quickly move you between the starting spot to the village and finally to the city. Similarly, if you’re an orc or troll and you finish up the Sen’jin village, they have an NPC that provides you with a wolf to move you to Razor Hill.

My first toon was a Tauren Hunter and I have to say that it was a real pain starting out. After completing the little starting zone in Mulgore, I set out to the Bloodhoof Village and got my ass kicked on multiple occasions because I didn’t understand the concept of aggro. Then my friend had me hoof it (yes, pun intended) to Orgrimmar from Mulgore. This was before we discovered how the Zepplin could take you from Thunderbluff to Orgrimmar. Still, running through the Barrens with all the higher level mobs was pretty crazy.

With the new traveling mechanics implemented including offering flight paths to the major cities, I think Blizzard fixed a huge issue, perhaps even apologetically. I’m not a huge fan of all the flight paths being unlocked just by reaching a certain level (that leaves out some basic challenges), but at least providing ways to get to the major cities was a tremendous boon.

The thing is that walking sucks. And being immersed in the world is fine….for the first time through. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to move on…and fast.

Boosting the Health Pools

Overall, I liked the idea of boosting the health pools. It is ridiculous because the scaling factor really makes no sense (I think someone at Blizzard has no concept of math). But from a solo’ing point of view, it’s great. Whenever I run old instances, I’m never in danger of dying. With just a few friends, I can easily take down older raids and see content that I never had a privilege of seeing. Of course, that also means our damage output increased which in turn allows us to down older bosses faster and easier.

More BOAs

I kinda wish that the BOAs were not guild level specific. But I think adding the helmet and cloak were nice touches. Of course, your level 1 will be uber twinked by gaining those items. But that’s the point, right?

Kicking the Guild Leader

The recent patch made me really happy in this regard. Honestly, I couldn’t wait until that feature came into play. Originally, I was part of a guild that my old guild leader had formed. But he NEVER was on so I ended up mostly running things. I never had enough control and eventually got frustrated and moved most of my toons to a different guild. However, I kept one toon inside the guild just for extra bag space (not to mention I purchased quite a few of the tabs). Then when I read about how you could kick an inactive guild leader out, I waited just for the patch to come out so that I could gain what rightfully was mine. It was beautiful. I cried. It was like poetry. I doubt that guy will ever play again but it was such an awesome feeling doing what should’ve happened a while back. I got scared for a bit because I noticed that he logged in  one day and I thought I would miss the opportunity. Nope. Got it right in time because he went inactive again just long enough. At any rate, I rarely get victories in this world, but that definitely counts as a major victory.

Hmmm…I can’t think of much else that I really liked about this patch. It mostly sucked and I already touched on that.

Why I Hate Dating

Dating is the most illogical thing in the world. It’s even more illogical than a Google interview but it shares the same lines of thinking. The thing about dating is that it’s really a game of chance where you’re attempting to assess the other person and get a better feeling for what they’re about and vice-verse.

Sounds easy enough.

Nope.

Despite humans being around for a reasonable amount of time, the amount of studies, movies, books, poetry and experience, dating is probably the most complicated thing in that it’s predicated upon illogical logics. What you’re doing in trying to find out if you match is really just probing the edges rather than being forward and stating outward your qualities on each side then saying at the end, “Hey, lets hang out!” This methodology has created expectations on what dating is all about because there’s these hidden rules that come into play.

Now, what compounds the issue is that every person is, indeed, unique. As a result, the expectations per person differs tremendously. If that’s the case, how can you simplify this process? You probably can’t. You’re forever trapped inside a hopeless loop engendered by society to this process.

The thing is that all a person really wants is just a chance. Doesn’t have to be sexual on the first day. Just get to know each other and spend more time with each other  so you can advance a relationship. But that again is part of the dating process that I hate. There is no “give a person a chance.” Typically, it’s a pretty binary decision dictated upon a few terrible factors, namely appearance, money and social standing.

So what happens if you’re an ugly fuck?

Well, you’re just screwed.

Unless you can improve the other two areas. But when does personality and the soul-aspect come into play? Honestly, it’s a rare occurrence, imo. I believe at the core dating (actually finding someone that interests you) is all about improving the gene pool for each side, which is why personality is the last priority involved. Personality/interests only come into play to make each other comfortable. However, if you’re rich, the bitch won’t mind taking it in any orifice because the material comforts far outweigh the 15 minutes she has to deal with you.